It’s hard to believe Jim isn’t here. Hard to believe someone so smart and creative and generous, so full of life, couldn’t have pulled off a last-minute hat trick, a novelist’s surprise ending and stopped that damn cancer in its tracks. But Jim’s stories always had true endings, strong, thought provoking but realistic endings. His characters played out the hands they were dealt with grit and grace. Just as Jim did. Who could have written a character like Jim, plotted a tale like his, or a death that would leave so many great friends so many great memories to mix with their great sense of loss when it finally sunk in that Jim was really gone?… No one. No one would even try.
To say that Jim was a helluva a novelist and a helluva friend just shows that we haven’t yet learned to put our strongest emotions and memories into the right words, the perfect words, for a perfect goodbye. That was always Jim’s project: finding the right words, the perfect words, and then sharing them. A successful project, a successful life. And now it’s our turn.
Jim and I started to work on creating this web site and blog a couple of years ago, but he ran out of time and energy, out of breath. If you want to remind yourself what an amazing writer Jim was just read his short piece on Writing the West on this site. And if Jim’s example inspires you to look for the right words, however hard they are to find, I’d like to invite you to add your memories of our friend to this page in the comment boxes just below.